San Diego Attractions

Balboa Park Free Tuesdays

Balboa Park Free Tuesdays


San Diego can be an expensive place to live in.  Luckily there are all kinds of free activities to ease the pain.  Walking around Balboa Park is a great free activity.  However, the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park museums cost money.  This is where Balboa Park Free Tuesdays come in. Balboa Park Free Tuesdays is a wonderful public service where museums allow San Diego residents and active military in for free.


Each of the first four Tuesdays in a given month offers certain free museums on a rotating basis.  In many cases, the museums are close to each other or appeal to the same audience.  There are over 16 museums in Balboa Park so on any given Tuesday there will be 3 to 5 free museums.  The only exception is on months that have five Tuesdays.

This article looks at which museums are eligible for Free Tuesday.  There is a link to both the official museum website and our guide to each museum.

Some of the museums will have special exhibits that are not included in Free Tuesday.  In addition, things like simulator rides and IMAX movies will generally not be included.

Note the upcoming Comic-Con Museum has some initial exhibits that are currently free.  We do not know if the Comic-Con Museum will participate in free Tuesday on its scheduled launch in 2021.

San Diego Comic-Con Museum

First Tuesday Museums

These museums are free on the first Tuesday of each month.

Visting San Diego’s Fleet Science Center

Guide to San Diego Natural History Museum aka The Nat

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Second Tuesday Museums

These museums are free on the second Tuesday of each month.

Third Tuesday Museums

These museums are free on the third Tuesday of each month.

San Diego Museum of Man

Fourth Tuesday Museums

These museums are free on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

San Diego Air and Space Museum

San Diego Automotive Museum

The City’s Botanical Building is open every day except Thursday. Admission is always free

Non-Tuesday Discounted Pricing

Of course, visitors to San Diego are not eligible for the free Tuesday program.  In addition, many residents may not want to go only on a specific Tuesday.  It can be expensive to go to several museums.

Thankfully there are many discount programs for both visitors and residents looking to go to multiple Balboa Park museums.

If you are in San Diego for 3 or more days you may want to consider a Go San Diego Card which includes admission to all the Balboa Park museums plus much more.  The Go San Diego Card allows visitors access to up to 40 attractions for either 1,2,3,5 or 7 days.  This is not a cheap option and we generally recommend it for 3 days or more where it is $209 adults/$189 children age 3 to 12.

A 7-day pass is a very good value at $299/$269.  The 3-day or more passes include admission to the very big attractions like SeaWorld and Legoland.  If you do get a Go San Diego Card it is very possible to do the San Diego Zoo and several Balboa Park museums in a single day.

The Go San Diego Card option we recommend to visitors just in town for a day or two is the build your own pass.  With the build your own pass you add 2 or more attractions to the pass and save 20% off the gate price for each attraction.

Go San Diego: Your Personalized Pass to San Diego

As our children have started to enter their tween and teenage years we have upgraded to the Balboa Explorer Park Pass. At $229 a year for 2 adults and 4 children this is much more expensive than an annual pass to a single museum.  However, it gets you into 16 Balboa Park museums. You should note the Balboa Park Explorer Pass does not include the special exhibits or discounts of membership just to the individual museums.

Visitors to San Diego can look into getting a 7-day Balboa Park Explorer Park Pass for $57 adults, $30 children age 3 to 12. This pass allows for unlimited admission to all museums for 7-days. This is a much better deal than a one-day pass which is $46 adults/$27 children and only allows access to 5 museums.


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